One Potato, Two Potato...

Generally speaking, I try to refrain from imposing my beliefs on others. Evangelism is not my style; in fact, it kind of drives me crazy. I feel that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, as long as they don’t force them on anyone else. Ever since a relative of mine locked me in a room and read the Bible to me in an effort to “save” me, I’ve been a proponent of the “live and let live” approach to life. I suppose I should be touched that said relative cared enough about my eternal soul to want to “help” me, but if a major religious conversion is in my future, I’d rather find Jesus when the time is right for me, not when someone else decides is convenient.

Nevertheless, I have seen the light about something in my life recently, and I want to share it with you. You see, I have recently discovered that I love sweet potatoes. All my life, I associated the vegetable with the sickly sweet marshmallow and canned yam dish served on Thanksgiving, and I wouldn’t let them creep onto my plate in any form. Then, earlier this year, the cafĂ© at work snuck some sweet potato fries onto my plate in lieu of the normal variety, and I tried one for the hell of it. I was hooked.

I started ordering sweet potato fries any time I saw them on a menu, but I assumed that my love for them was rooted in the fact that they were fried. I mean, when does frying not make something tastier? I started getting curious, however, if I could make myself eat them in other forms. After all, they’re perennially listed as a superfood, and touted for their nutritional superiority. Given that I don’t really like vegetables in general, it would be nice to find something healthy that I actually like to eat.

By then, it was fall, and a spate of sweet potato recipes were popping up all over the cooking blogosphere. I filed some away on Pinterest, but it wasn’t until I found some Italian sausage languishing in the freezer (I’m trying, seemingly in vain, to reduce its contents in preparation for our move), that I decided to actually give one a try. I was very glad I did.

The recipe was for a sweet potato and sausage hash, and Justin and I made it for a weekend breakfast a few weeks ago before heading over to our new place to work for the day. The complex carbohydrates in the sweet potatoes kept us full much of the day and fortified us for a day of manual labor. More importantly, however, it tasted amazing. The sweetness of the vegetables paired perfectly with the salt and spiciness of the sausage. Basil added a fresh herbal note. With a breath of relief that I could get myself to eat non-fried sweet potatoes and still love them, I vowed to make it again soon.

Tonight, I did just that. I had a couple sweet potatoes left over from the previous batch, and some Italian sausage from last week’s lasagna soup, and both items needed to go. I topped the hash with a fried egg, and it was the perfect breakfast-for-dinner. Seriously, even if you think you don’t like sweet potatoes, this might be the dish to win you over. Just make it.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Hash
adapted from Improv Kitchen

4 c. sweet potatoes (from about 4 sweet potatoes), diced
3 links spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
8 basil leaves, chiffonaded
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450.
1. Drizzle the diced sweet potatoes with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven approximately 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, while you complete the remainder of the recipe.
2. Cook sausage and garlic powder over medium-high heat in a large saute pan until browned. Add onions and a pinch of salt, and cook until softened. Add the minced garlic and cook one minute more. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, add to the saute pan, and cook two more minutes. Toss in the chiffonaded basil just before serving. Top with a fried egg if desired.

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